Sunday, 27 February 2011

More winter Gull'ing + an unexpected migrant

Wednesday was spent Gull'ing at Rainton Meadows trying to catch up with John Bridgelens's Iceland Gull and Mediterranean Gull. The day was a bit of a disaster with the only bird of note being a Lesser-black backed Gull, though I did get a good video of it and a Common Gull that was hanging around the area.

(Lesser black-backed Gull - Sorry for weird music, added it to cover up John's swear word)

(Common Gull)

Friday was spent Gull'ing at Teesside at Seaton Common tip, I prefer to Gull at this tip rather than Cowpen where the birds are always distant and often difficult to observe especially if its windy. I had nothing of note really apart from a cracking looking Mediterranean Gull which was moulting out of winter into summer plumage. Also I had 3-4 Lesser black-backed Gull which seemed to be commuting between the tip to Seaton Common to bathe and wash up. 

I recommend you mute the video as it was really windy:
(Mediterranean Gull)

A nice surprise when Tom Francis came by and kindly alerted us he had just found a Hooded Crow on Seaton Common, I drove along in my car and saw the bird from the car after couple of minutes of scoping the common itself. Got out of the car to set up my tripod and scope to get a better view but the bird must have flow off and wasn't seen again. Hopefully it will turn back up so people can get a chance to twitch it. But after all its just a Hooded Crow. It was a county tick for me.

Saturday was spent at Rainton Meadows with a mate of mine looking at the Redpolls. The only Arctic that put on a show was the 1st winter male. But I managed this video of the bird:

Pic of birds undertail coverts

Another lad was scanning the gulls and managed to pick out a cracking winter plumage Mediterranean Gull, its a really rubbish video the bird is infront of the Herring Gull that flaps its wings center of screen at 8 seconds in; the bird is roosting with its head tucked in its back:

(Mediterranean Gull)

That Slaty-backed Gull is still doing my head in! Until next time, Foghorn out!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Dove from Above - Friday 18th of February

I had a typical day at University on the Thursday and text my mate Gary to see if he fancied going for the Oriental Turtle Dove and have another go for the Slaty-backed Gull. Gary said he was busy arranging a trip down and that there might be a space for me. So at around 9 that night Gary text to say there was a space if I wanted it. Not surprisingly I took his hand off and we set off for Staffordshire at around 3:00 on Friday morning. We reached Staffordshire 3 hours later at 6:00 and arrived at Gary's mates house Brian. After a morning brew we were off to a little village in the Oxfordshire countryside called Chipping Norton. We arrived fairly early probably about 7-8ish can't remember the exact time. We were greeted by two men who said something along the lines off "It was there but has flown off". About 30 seconds later a mate of mine who I met at the Rainton Meadows Arctic Redpolls came around the corner and stopped, "It's still there matey, on the guys lawn". We thanked him and made a hasty walk up the bank to number 41 Leys. Lee Evans was at the door managing the occasion, it was good to see someone taking control of the situation in some form. We had to que for about 10-15 minutes and then we eventually got in. A walk along the corridor and then through to the kitchen was our port of call, I was the first one of the lads to get in (not that I was keen or anything) and everyone was there being very quiet and respectful of the owners allowing us into their home for this special occasion. We leaned against the wall and looked onto a bush outside the patio windows, there sat in a tree was this:

(Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove - © Brian Evill)

(Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove - © Brian Evill)

What I love about those photos was the fact it was taken whilst I was actually watching the bird. A superb bird and I had about 1 minutes viewing time before leaving, I left fairly quickly like others so that people waiting got a chance to see it. I wouldn't want the bird to fly off incase some of the others missed it. On leaving I paid my money and shook the homeowners hand and thanked him very much for allowing me into his home. He asked me a question, something like this "Excuse me where are you from?". Obviously my accent was a bit of a give away that I wasn't from around the area. "County Durham", was my reply. To which he replied "F*c!(! H%l*", told his wife where I was from and then wished me a safe journey home. I think he was surprised to hear how far I had come to see the bird. We were in high spirits so off to London we go..............

We went through the center of London at around 10-12, the highlight was a Ring-necked Parakeet and whilst in the center of London we received a message that the Slaty-backed Gull had been seen. Excellent! We arrived and got told it was seen by 1 person, I chatted to a guy I met last time I was down and he kind of hinted that the guy was an 'ok birder, but we all make mistakes'. To which I smiled and lost pretty much all hope it was going to be here that day. Sure enough we didn't see it, Gary picked up a Iceland Gull sitting on Wennington Marsh and I managed some simply terrible photos and a short video. So I dipped the Slaty-backed Gull again. Its cost me about £40 now I think, I dipped it for the last time I think. Hope there will be others.

(Iceland Gull - Middle bird sitting down on the grass - Andrew Kinghorn)

Poor video of Iceland Gull:

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Two white-wingers at Rainton Meadows DWT

Made famous by the wintering Coues' Arctic Redpolls Rainton Meadows has pulled in some excellent gulls over the years. These include: at least 2 Ring-billed Gulls, Iceland Gulls, Mediterranean Gulls, Glaucous Gulls, and 1 Caspian Gull that was on one of the islands briefly early on last year.

Today local wildlife photographer John Bridges came up trumps again and managed a Rainton Meadows "life click" and scored with both Iceland Gull and Mediterranean Gull. I managed a Med Gull myself this morning at Great Lumley, same bird as Johns? I reckon so as this bird keeps going missing and Rainton Meadows is a stones throw away.

Some images used as always by the kind permission of John Bridges. ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT © John Bridges.

1st Winter Iceland Gull
(Note: The size of the bird compared to Herring Gulls. This bird is quite small and doesn't have that brutishness of a Glaucous)
(Note: Again the size of the bird, about the same size if not slightly smaller than Herring Gull present. Also note the primary projection (beyond the tail) it is fairly long and typical of Iceland. Also the look on the birds face is 'cute' rather than fierce and mean as would be expected from Glaucous Gull.)

(Note: bill length. Tis birds bill is fairly typical of Iceland as being fairly small and short. Again the expression on the face is more 'cute' than the brutish look of the face on Glaucous Gull. Note how the bill changes as the winter goes on, in early winter bill is largley a fairly uniform black. However as the winter goes on the base of the bill becomes pink as shown clearly on this bird. So this is a 'late' first winter.)

(Note: Translucent wings that show up well in this image. No hint of any off colour tones that you wouldn't expect to see, eliminating a leucistic Herring as John thought when he first uploaded the pictures today. Also not the nice brownish tones to the belly so overall the bird isn't as white as first impressions might seem.)

(On both the above images you can see the general shape of the bird. Note: wings look quite long. Also the belly looks a nice brown color on the underwing coverts are also have a nice brownish tinge and this shows up well here on these images.)

Ad Winter Mediterranean Gull 
(Note: Med Gulls are fairly easy to pick out in a flock of Gulls:
- Slightly larger than surrounding Black-headed Gulls
- Note the primaries on the underwing on Med Gull; pure translucent white
- Note the primaries on the underwing on the Black-headed Gulls; black and gives a dark look even at range)

(Again note how the bird looks large compared to surrounding Black-headed Gulls. Primaries on Black-headed Gulls project more beyond the tail compared to Med Gull. Note especially how uniform the Med Gull looks in the flock.)

(On above two images note how the bird looks very white with little hint of black tones anywhere on plumage.)

Both cracking birds and excellent finds for the reserve. Nice work John!

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Wednesday - Gull'ing at Teesside

The title says it all really. I did some Gull'ing at Teesside. I haven't been getting the result the lads of Pitsea have been getting. They have now seen the Slaty-backed Gull twice on that tip!

Anyway I had a fairly good day, I arrived at about 11 and started to scan through the Gulls. Nothing much on the tip surface apart from about 74,321 Herring Gulls OR so it seemed. So I started to scan the landfill site tip sides to look at the loafing Gulls. Pink legs, pink legs, pink legs, not pink legs...........(zoom in eyepiece), dull yellow hue legs..........................(gets out iPhone and puts on video).....................(gull moves).......................... looks through scope again just to make sure it has Yellow legs...............yes it does.........................(flys off). How I love Gull watching. Was it Yellow-legged Gull? Yes. A long awaited county first for me and a year tick.

I had nothing for a while and then scanning the tip side I picked up a nice monster of a Glaucous Gull, I love these birds! The bird stood about for a good 5 minutes before I took my eye off it and it went missing, I soon picked it up as it was about to land on the other side of the tip and out of view.

(Glaucous Gull - Andrew Kinghorn)

Then a car pulled up, man got out, started setting up his camera, it was John Bridgelens (Bridges). Not surprisingly we got talking and John said Iceland Gull would be a "life click". So with a snickers in mouth and hand I picked out the Iceland Gull on other side of the road flying about on the tip. I scoffed the last of my snickers bar down and we both crossed the road to the tip. Within minutes I picked the bird out and it was really close, John got straight on it and the bird landed on the tip surface. John managed some simply superb images of the bird before it took off again.

(Iceland Gull - © John Bridges)

Throughout the day John found it once more and I found it once more, some more superb images were taken. When John found it the second time it was quite humorous, here's what the conversation went like:
John: "So what exactly does this bird look like in flight?"
Andrew: "Very white, like a ghost."
(About 40 seconds later John points at a Gull circling above our heads, I look up)
Andrew: "That's it!"
(Gets behind camera quickly and rattles of some superb images).
Here are some images taken of the Gull as it flew above us:

(Iceland Gull - © John Bridges)

Then I found the bird again later on, this time it was perched up again fairly distantly on the tip and then it flew closer and John manages some great shots again this time of the bird on deck and more great images of the bird in flight.

After the bird flew closer:

(Iceland Gull - © John Bridges)

I picked out a Lesser black-backed Gull amongst the huge mass of Gulls. A first for this site for me this year. Later on another friend of mine arrived who I know and he picked out the Glaucous Gull sitting on the tip really close to us! John managed some more superb images of the bird:

(Glaucous Gull - © John Bridges)

Then just to top of the day I was scanning the side of the tip when I picked out a dark backed Gull sitting. I said to the lad I know "Take a look at this." I asked what the thought and he said he thought argentatus Herring Gull. I said something like "I don't think so", I zoomed in on its legs and they were a dull Yellow hue. The mantle color was just not dark enough for Lesser black-backed Gull. So I put it down as a second Yellow-legged Gull, I am confident of my identification but any comments welcome.

(Click image to enlarge - Yellow-legged Gull - Andrew Kinghorn)

Some videos, first two very brief, last video shows the bird taking off:

A great day with great company. I have also been twitching recently. Stay tuned for more on that.
Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

! ! ! Rainton Redpolls Hit the Press ! ! !

Yes, incase any of my readers didn't realiase the Rainton Meadows Arctic Redpolls hit the press on Saturday the 29th of January 2011. I contacted the Journal editor Tony Henderson at the turn of the New Year, can't remember exactly when but when I did contact Mr Henderson he said he would like the story. So I supplied Mr Henderson with the information and he added into part of his article. So only the bits about the Redpolls was supplied by me, not sure who supplied all the rest of the info.

The online article can be read here:

OR read it from the image by clicking and zooming in:

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Glaucous Gull - Seaton Common, Teesside

Just thought I would share some images of the Glaucous Gull that is frequenting Seaton Common tip at Teesside. The tip is opposite Zinc Works Road/North Gare. The bird is regularly seen on the tip as well as roosting up on Seaton Common itself. The bird is a 1st winter, in other words last years young. I have seen the bird myself and I filmed it and photographed it a while ago, but Ian Forrest has managed some far better images and videos of the bird.

So very kindly Ian Forrest has allowed me to share these with you, all images and videos below are © Copyright Ian Forrest UNLESS otherwise stated.

(juvenile/1st winter Glaucous Gull at Teesside. Note bill patter with solid black tip to the end of the bill. Also note how large the bird feels from looking at the photo, powerful bill, bulky body, and everything looks nice and solid. Finally note the primary projection beyond the tail, its very short and barely existent on the bird standing in this posture. Iceland Gull should have a longer primary projection beyond the tail.)

(Again note the primary projection, appears longer in this image. Goes to show how the angle at which a bird stands can alter how long the primary projection actually looks. In this photo the bird again looks very large and powerful, reinforced by that long and heavy bill. Marking on coverts, secondaries, and tertials universal making the bird look neat and tidy in terms of markings in plumage)

(Note in this image and the image above the translucent primaries in flight appearing very white and clean. All over the upperwing of the bird looks very white. The primaries and secondaries on the underwing again appear very white, note the contrast between the white primaries and secondaries and the darker shades formed by the coverts.)

A nice video of the bird:

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The One We call "The Snowball"

The following post will present you with a selection of images of one of the Coues' Arctic Redpolls at Rainton Meadows DWT, this bird is the best looking bird on site. I have only ever seen it for certain on 1 occasion a few Sunday's ago. John Bridges who owns the website has kindly agreed to let me use his images on my blog to share with all you lovely smart people who follow my blog, not that I am complementing or thanking you or anything. ;)

Thanks to John Bridges for allowing me to use his images, all photos below Copyright © John Bridges UNLESS otherwise stated. 

(What a beauty! Note the over all paleness of the bird making it look very white. Only one flank streak visible and very fine, if any flank streaking is present then it is very fine as it can't be seen on these images. Also note the all important large white rump, you can see from this image the rump is extensive extending a good way up the birds back. Having seen this bird myself I can confirm that it is a very large and unmarked white rump. Definitely the safest feature that points toward Arctic Redpoll.)

(Note: How appearance can alter depending upon what the bird is doing, here the birds head shape and the way the bird is holding its head makes the bill look large. In actual fact in the field this birds bill is very short and pushed in.)

(Note: Click on the image to increase its size, you can see on the under-tail coverts (the bit before the tail starts) only 1 very thin black streak. This is typical of Coues' Arctic Redpoll, most typical birds should show only 1 dark think streak like this bird. OR no streaks at all. Though some birds can have varying under tail covert streaking so this feature alone is not so good to go off for positively ID'ing Arctic Redpoll of any race.)

(Finally note again the paleness of the bird, its very white and pale even compared to the pale Mealy (bottom left). The Lesser Redpoll (top right) can be separated easily here. Note the overall dull brown tone of the entire bird making the bird appear very brown and fairly uniform. The Lesser Redoll here can also be easily told from the Mealy Redpoll (top left), the Mealy is much paler and whiter overall, also it is slightly larger and this can easily be seen in this photo. Though it is sometimes hard to assess on individual photos or in field conditions where birds may be distant.)

Here's a picture by Derek Charlton of the same bird back end on:
(Coues' Arctic Redpoll - © Derek Charlton)
(Do I even need to say "note: the smacking great big white snowball of a rump". But also note the very fine flank streaking that can be seen. This bird is the one the field guides want you to see! Nice and easy. :) )

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

nICE few days birding

A nice few days have been had birdwatching. On Wednesday I headed to Fishburn first but failed to connect with the Firecrest but got cracking views of Goldcrest and Treecreeper. The later species being a year tick. Then I headed south to Bowesfield Marsh in Teesside the species on my target list was the Green-winged Teal which had turned up. I managed to find the bird pretty much shortly after negative news had gone out to say the bird hadn't been seen. Thankfully it was still within the county borders so I could claim my county tick! Wow, I am getting sad with these lists.

My images and videos are poor, its the bird on the bank! You can see the vertical stripe.

(Green-winged Teal - Andrew Kinghorn)

Then I thought a bit of Gulling was in order so I headed for Seaton Common landfill site. There's something about winter Gull watching which really appeals to me. Before I was even a birder I really liked Gulls and they fascinated me. On arrival I was sad to see only about 50 gulls feeding on the rubbish and only a few hundred roosting up on the landfill soil and other parts of the site. On about my 3rd scan of the Rubbish a gull with its wings raised caught my attention all white wings, small gull, it was an Iceland Gull. A cracking Iceland Gull, I knew a bird was present in the area but I wasn't expecting to find it. I managed a couple of seconds of video before the bird flew off. I managed to see it well in the bins but I was a bit focused on getting video I didn't really see it well in the scope. Must pay more attention to just looking at the birds more.

(Iceland Gull - Andrew Kinghorn)

By far the bird of the day was this adult Iceland Gull. They are just superb birds. I love gulls........

Friday saw me having a day out with a local mate of mine from South Tyneside. A trip to Fishburn again had me dipping Firecrest but plenty more Goldcrest and Treecreeper. The hoped for Tengmalm's Owl couldn't be located amongst the pines. Then onto nearby Farnless Farm where we had brief views in flight of a couple of Corn Buntings amongst the throng of Yellowhammers. We then headed to Rainton Meadows where we enjoyed views of a cracking Coues' Arctic Redpoll, nothing amongst the Gulls as usual! I got cracking views of 3 Roe Deer, maybe upload the video later. If I don't you will be able to find it eventually on Youtube. Just click the link to the right of here that says something about my Youtube site.

Today (Saturday) saw me around Rainton Meadows again where I enjoyed good views of 2 Coues' Arctic Redpoll. Good to meet Eastern Crowned Dougue and Seggs again at Rainton today.


Until next time, Foghorn out!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Norfolk Long Weekend trip - DAY THREE

This was our final day so as you can imagine I wanted to get away for early afternoon as I didn't fancy driving the long way home in the dark. But I was determined to try and get better views of the Northern Harrier before I left in case I never get a chance at this bird again.

We started off at Lady Anne's drive at Holkham which is just west of Wells-next-the-Sea where we were staying. A tip of from a mate (Face with Binoculars) the previous day was that a Rough-legged Buzzard was knocking about this area. We parked up, paid about £4000 for a ticket, and then set up scope to start scanning. Colin had a Stonechat but I couldn't get onto it as it was distant over the wetland. After about 20 minutes Derek put up the call and he had found the Rough-legged Buzzard, it could have been over in Lincolnshire but I couldn't quite tell. We all managed to get onto the bird and saw all the features to eliminate Buzzard and confirm it was actually a Rough-legged Buzzard. Smiles all around we left here and set of for Twitchwell, I mean Titchwell.

We didn't get very far until I pulled over as Derek spotted what he thought was a White-fronted Goose in a field with other geese. I was half expecting to see a flock of Lesser White Front's (only kidding mate ;) ) but Derek has superbly spotted a whole field of White-fronted Geese. The birds showed extremely well and it was by far the best ever views I have had of White-fronted Geese.

Our final stop of the day was Thornham, I had planned to go straight to Titchwell RSPB but I decided I better check Thornham first. On arrival we were informed we had just missed the Northern Harrier, 'oh dear' were my thoughts. But the guys showed us where it headed and we waited. A nice Barn Owl provided my first and last of the trip and we watched 3 distant Marsh Harriers go about their business. After about 30-45 minutes Brian picked up a Harrier. From memory Brian said something like "Is that it?", a quick scan with the scope and I picked up the bird straight away. "THAT'S IT!" I said and we enjoyed simply excellent views of the bird as it hunted and flew about. Then the Northern Harrier flew right past us and I had it in the scope, we had sensational views. Even my mate Colin commented on how good the views were, Colin has been birding for probably about 35-40 years! Derek managed the below video and the still image shows my backside and the Northern Harrier, I was close haha

(Backside view, OH and the Northern Harrier. Brian to the right)

Northern Harrier video:

The Northern Harrier is just a fantastic bird and stands out from Hen Harrier, well it did to me when I saw it on the Friday and Sunday. One thing I did notice and the other lads did was the flight and hunting style of the bird. I took into consideration that the bird might be hunting differently due to the strong winds, however the Marsh Harriers and Hen Harriers we watched were behaving no differently to the way they do normally in normal wind conditions. So the wind strength wasn't affecting the way in which the bird was flying and hunting. 

The bird was always moving fast, low, and clearly trying to flush birds up and then go for the easy catch as the bird would be already pretty close to make an instant kill. On the Friday when we were watching it the bird would suddenly disappear and then reappear due to the speed it was moving in both directions. In summary it would go low and fast one way and then turn around and go low and fast the other way. It looks to me like habits an flight style are the best way to pick out a Northern Harrier candidate in the WP rather than plumage (if at range). I know plumage details are key to positivity ID the birds in the first place but could a distant bird somewhere suggest Northern Harrier just of flight style without seeing any of the clinching ID features in the birds plumage. 

I am certainly no expert but I would say they are a very different bird, about time the BOU got their fingers out and separated them! There wasn't much at Titchwell RSPB so after a look around we headed off back home.

Hope you enjoyed reading my Norfolk trip report. Bird of the trip had to be Northern harrier. My year list stood at 140 at the end of the trip.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Essex: SLATY-BACKED GULL turned up last week again

Last Thursday the Slaty-backed Gull turned up again at Pitsea in Essex on a dip with no general access. Some more superb images were obtained of the bird:

The bird was then found roosting up on a nearby reservoir called Hanningfield Reservoir. Again some more images of this superb gull were taken:

What a bird, still gutted I dipped it.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Norfolk Long Weekend trip - DAY TWO

The day started well with a drive to Halvergate which is near Great Yarmouth. The first of our target birds was easy and 2 Bewick's Swans gave themselves up and showed fairly well but only briefly before they flew off.

We drove on to try and find some more Bewick's Swan's but in doing so Derek spotted a white bird in near by fields with Pink-footed Geese. It was the Ross's Goose! Obviously the bird that was reported the day before in near by Acle. The bird showed very well even though it was distant allowing us to study the bird and enjoy it whatever its origins. I reckon most of these birds are the 'real deal' but I am sure many will disagree. 

From here we headed off to Buckingham Marshes RSPB, on arrival Derek picked out a goose and he thought it was a white front. Easy mistake to make as it was no where near the Greylags. However by the time I walked to where Derek was it was with Greylags. One look and I said something like "It's a Lesser White Fronted Goose!". After doing some research and a few queries with locals on BirdForum it appears the bird I saw was the hybrid that has been knocking about for a while.

Sadly there was no sign of the Bean Geese, when I got home and checked RBA later on turns out they were around the corner at Cantley Marshes RSPB. TYPICAL! We checked BirdGuides just before leaving and news came through of a Ferruginous Duck at Cockshoot Broad in Norfolk. Where is that I hear you ask? Well we were wondering the same thing as we sat in the car for 30 minutes going online, using maps, ringing around and trying to find out where it was. We managed to get some info and we set off and after getting totally lost we eventually ended up at Cockshoot broad car park. We arrived at the hide and nothing at all apart from an Otter and Bittern, I shouldn't take Bittern for granted. Forgive me. We left the hide without seeing it. But all was not lost! It was seen on the river whilst we were there but we missed it. After a short wait the bird appeared and swam across the river and straight for cover into a reedbed area. Typical Fudge Duck! Fairly good views were obtained although very brief. I waved Derek over who managed to get onto the bird and we watched as the bird sat up and flapped its wings and bobbed its head and then back into the reedbed. A nice bird.....pure bred? I reckon so. Get on the list!

A look at Sculthorpe Moor provided nothing really of note not the hoped for Golden Pheasant. Would have been a lifer as well.

Last Norfolk trip day coming soon!

Until next time, Foghorn out!

And now for something completely different.......

So don't forget to pay your road tax lol

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Norfolk Long Weekend trip - DAY ONE

On Thursday the 3rd my day was spent at University finishing an epically large assignment I had to complete. This was completed at about 8 on Thursday night and then submitted online. Phew! I could finally relax, I had an hour or so then went to bed to try and catch some sleep before the long drive south to Thornham harbor on the North Norfolk coast. I think I managed about 10 minutes sleep before I had to get up at 2:10 on Friday morning. The first pickup was easy as Brian got his mate who is a Taxi driver to drive him to my house, next through to Hetton to pick up Jack Snipe Colin and then finally onto Easington to pick up Derek the Finch.

After a few fuel stops for me and the car we arrived at Thornham harbour at around 7:45. Pulled the car over and first year tick of the trip were just in front of the car 2 Brent Geese. We got out of the car and stood in front of an old abandoned barn where we were sheltered from the wing. A flyover Lapland Bunting provided the next year tick of the day, it was seen again later on. The huge saltmarsh was alive with your common birds including a nice flock of TwiteSkylarks, and Meadow Pipits. The last bird being a long overdue year tick, they have either taken a hammering in the North East or they have moved onto pastures new. A flyby Spotted Redshank also provided a nice year tick, a common wintering wader on the Norfolk coast but as rare as hen's teeth in the North East in winter. Scanning toward Titchwell RSPB for the prized Northern Harrier only supplied a few Marsh Harriers but a ringtail Hen Harrier was a nice consolation for the lack of the Northern Harriers presence.

Our next stop was Titchwell RSPB where I soon added Linnet to my year list they are superb birds when you think about it. The next bird of note was a superb Water Pipit, a long awaited lifer for me. There was a bird in Durham during the spell of bad weather we had but I resisted the urge to go and twitch a bird that is pretty common. Views were distant and poor due to the strong winds and distance, the bird flew off and headed towards the hide and not surprisingly so did we. We were rewarded with good views of the Water Pipit and Derek managed the photo shown below. A large selection of birds were on view from the hide including some Brent Geese that I managed to grab a small video off before they flew away. Around the islands were Dunlin2 Avocet, and a nice selection of wintering Ruff. One bird was very white and I managed to grab a video off it that can be seen in this post below. On the way out of the reserve I could hear a Robin calling. On glancing to my right I was expecting it to be sitting somewhere on a near by bush. I couldn't see it and I then realised it was sitting about 5ft from my face!

(Water Pipit - © Derek Charlton)

(Brent Geese - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Ruff - Andrew Kinghorn)

(very tame Robin - © Derek Charlton )

Our next stop was Cley Marshes NWT in the hope of seeing the fairly long staying drake American Wigeon, on the way Colin managed to spot a Red-legged Partridge in a nearby field and I managed to see the bird on passing but sadly no where to stop to have a closer look. Before going to look for the American Wigeon we headed a little further along to coast to Salthouse to a beach car park in the hope of finding Snow Bunting and perhaps that Spoonbill that had been knocking about that area. On pulling into the car park a flock of about 35 birds took off and landed beside me drinking from a pool it was the flock of Snow Bunting. Some of the birds in the flock were just superb looking birds, one was really white with a brownish coloration to the rump. We got really close to the birds and they allowed excellent views. From here we managed to see Great black-backed Gull a bird that had evaded our trip list. One thing I did notice was the lack of large larus Gulls.

Our next stop was actually Cley Marshes NWT itself, we walked along the east bank and managed fairly good but distant views of the drake American Wigeon that has decided to spend the winter there. Then onto the beach where a walk up the beach revealed no sign of the reported Shorelarks, however a walk back produced about 10 Shorelarks that flew overhead and landed on the shingle of the beach. We then enjoyed amazing views and I managed a short video. From here was had a walk back to the car and headed for our accommodation at Wells-next-the-Sea, we dropped our stuff off and then straight back to Thornham harbour for another look for the Northern Harrier. A distant male Hen Harrier put in appearance early on as did 2 Spotted Redshanks, thankfully this time I managed a video of one of the birds. The video can be seen below. As expected 4 Marsh Harriers were whizzing around Titchwell RSPB reserve in then distance. 2  Egyptian Geese flew in from the west over the saltmarsh and I alerted everyone so they could get onto the birds in time before they disappeared towards Titchwell RSPB. We had all but give up home when Derek said something like "That's it.......isn't it?" a few frantic "Where?" 's were let out from me but sadly I was unable to get onto the bird. About 10 minutes passed and it was getting pretty gloomy and then Derek spotted it again and this time I got onto it "Yeah, thats it alright!". The gingery wash to the underparts stood out a mile even at the great range the bird was. For another couple of minutes we enjoyed good but fairly distant views of the Northern Harrier as it flew back and forward up and down. The birds flight style was quite noticeably different to the Hen Harriers and Marsh Harriers and its hunting style is also very different. But more on that in a later post..........

(Shorelark - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Spotted Redshank - Andrew Kinghorn)

Did I see the Northern Harrier again or did I have to just be happy with the distant views I got on Friday evening? Stay tuned folks.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

More Gull stuff

One of the reasons I look forward to winter is the Gull watching, I managed to get back into it back end of last year after getting over my major disappointment of missing the Glaucous-winged Gull at Teesside. Not sure if I will ever get over that............

But in this post just thought I would share some more Gull images and video. Firstly additional images of the leucistic Herring Gull which I presume to be argenteus. First off here is the video of the bird:

(Leucistic Herring Gull - © Ray Scott)

 (Leucistic Herring Gull - © Ray Scott)

(Leucistic Herring Gull - © Ray Scott)


On Lee Evans blog he posted up a link with some very interesting images of Kumlien's Gulls at different ages, obviously showing the variation within plumages of birds due to age. Also its very interesting to note how so much individual variation goes on with these Gulls. Be sure to check Page 2 and Page 3 as well for extra images and comments. Here's the link:

Until next time, Foghorn out!